Top 10 Family Board Games (with 5 bonus because we couldn’t all agree) 2016 Edition

Top 10 Family Board Games (with 5 bonus because we couldn’t all agree) 2016 Edition

I own around 70 board/card games. Some are simple card games that take about 5 minutes to play other are elaborate affairs with multiple boards, miniatures, and pieces that can take hours and hours to play. My family is finally old enough for all of us to play a board game and stay engaged. We play a whole bunch of games, and since my son has a YouTube channel we thought we would make a top 10 list of our favorites to play as a family. Well, we ended up with 15 because there were games that got pushed off the top 10 that we still wanted to play.

These are all games that would work well with a family of 4. In the review we talk about how certain games work better with different player counts and what type of family game that it is. So if you are interested in the full review watch the video below. For just a quick list of the games here you go:

  • 15: Kingsburg
  • 14: Dixit
  • 13: Clue
  • 12: Dominion
  • 11: Lords of Waterdeep
  • 10: Rise of Augustus
  • 9: Sushi Go
  • 8: Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle
  • 7: Lanterns
  • 6: Splendor
  • 5: Camel Up
  • 4: Sheriff of Nottingham
  • 3: Ticket to Ride
  • 2: Carcassonne
  • 1: Qwirkle

Board Games for Youth Groups: Codenames

Board Games for Youth Groups: Codenames

I am a big board game fan and I love to use board games to break down barriers with my youth. One of of the games we play these days is a game called Codenames. 

Codenames is a team based clue giving game similar to games like “Catch Phrase” or “Taboo” where on person is trying to get his team to guess a word based on a clue. The difference with Codenames is that the word is one of 25 words printed on cards set out on a table and your clue can only be 1 word. As the clue-giver you try to give one word clues that can fit multiple cards while avoiding the words that are there for your opponents. 


This is a great youth group game because it scales easily (as many people as can stand around a table can play) and students can drop in and out in the general chaos of a youth room without killing the game too much. Also it requires students to communicate with each other and try to put themselves in someone else’s shoes to figure out what they are thinking. 


As with any of these clue giving games some students just aren’t great at thinking on their feet or coming up wth clues under pressure. In Codenames the clue giver doesn’t change that often so a student who is bad at it can get pretty frustrated (and can be frustrating to teammates which can lead to some negative behavior). Also, for a youth group setting it takes up space (you need a table for the cards) and there is a little bit of set up and clean up  when compared to games like Catch Phrase. 


All in all I love Codenames and have found it to be a great game to play with students. I also made my own version of the game using Bible themes (you will still need a version of the game to play it, these are just some fun Bible clues).

That Dragon Cancer

That Dragon Cancer

There is a game that was just released called “That Dragon, Cancer.” It was developed by a man who lost his son to cancer after a long, long battle. The trailer (posted below) makes me want to run away and not think about it again, but at the same time that makes me feel small and weak and not just a little mean. It is sort of like the fact that since my kids are healthy I want to run away from even thinking a reality where that isn’t the case.

But I want to play this game. I want to walk through it and feel through it and maybe in some way understand just a little more about the stories that we all share in this world. I haven’t been following the story, and have only just found the game here at its release, so I’m not sure of their whole story, but they seem to be people who are trying to follow God in the middle of tragedy. Anyway, I want to go and give myself to this game for a while. I just don’t know if I have the courage to do it.


Long ago I gave my old SNES to my brother-in-law (he was young at the time). Well recently Nathan has developed a love for all things Mario so this weekend I brought my old Super Nintendo Entertainment System home and hooked it up. A couple of quick observations:

1) I must have played Super Mario World (the one with the Yoshi and the feathers that makes you have a cape) a whole bunch because I remember each world, including where to duck for off screen stuff.

2) F-Zero was a game that I played for hours and I have no clue how. The flicker on the track makes my eyes hurt.

3) Star Fox on the SNES was revolutionary at the time. I played it more than I would like to admit, but it is butt ugly and also nearly unplayable on a big screen.

4) Street Fighter II is one of the best games of all times and I can still pull off a dragon punch without even thinking about it.

5) Mario is Missing is a stupid, stupid game.

6) Lemmings is a great game even on SNES. I think it would make a great iPhone game. I had forgotten how cool it was to blow up 100 Lemmings.

New Super Mario Bro Wii

No big spiritual lesson here but I am digging on playing a 2D platformer again, especially one as beautiful as Mario. Last year I spent some serious time with Braid (a 2D platformer that is wicked hard, but ultimately very rewarding) but other than messing around on my SNES with Nathan it has been years since I have played a game like this.

Within moments I was holding down the “1” button so I could run fast and letting my thumb press the “2” button to jump as I ran. It took probably 2 worlds for me to really remember how to play these sorts of games, but once I did I found myself taken back to those days right after high school sitting with my Nintendo or my SNES and finding ways to get through castle after castle.

It may not be a perfect game, and it is very hard in a few places (the addition of Luigi popping up to show you how to beat the level if you die a bunch of times in a row is pretty cool) but all in all it has been a fun few days playing games like those of my youth.

I bet in 20 years someone is going to make a game just like Modern Warfare 2 and all my students are going to gush over how much fun it is to play a game like that again.